50 Years of Earth Day
Earth Day 2020 marks 50 years of mobilizing millions of people worldwide to take action in addressing the many environmental challenges and opportunities facing the planet today. The Earth Day Network is putting out a call to citizens around the world to come together on this historic day to bring inspiration, innovation, and determination to the forefront on April 22nd.
We will celebrate this momentous event in Polk County in a different manner than we had originally intended. No big gatherings and projects liked we had hoped for, but instead we are encouraging our patrons to visit their local park or trail and help clean it up. Park visitation in Polk County has seen a 150% increase since the mid-March COVID-19 outbreak. Trail usage has seen a 200% increase. We couldn’t be more humbled and pleased that our areas are providing a safe place to enjoy the outdoors during this difficult time.
However, more park and trail usage results in the generation of more garbage. In honor of Earth Day, we are asking park patrons to bring a garbage bag and gloves to their favorite park or trail and help us keep these areas clean and prevent this waste from entering nearby waterways. Problem areas include trailheads, parking areas, roadway corridors, shorelines and in-lake pollution. If you want to be on the water, bring your canoe or kayak. Volunteer Supply Mini Stations will be positioned in front of the Jester Park Nature Center, and the maintenance shops at Easter Lake Park, Yellow Banks Park, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, and Thomas Mitchell Park. These stations will include garbage grabbers and bags. Help yourself to the supplies, but we ask that you do return the grabbers when you are done. All filled garage bags can be disposed of in any park dumpster or placed alongside the park road for our maintenance crews to pick up.
If garbage removal is not your thing, we have a few other ways you can give back. Spring brings about a need in all of our parks to remove sticks and limbs in our mowed areas and on our nature trails. We invite individuals and families to visit your favorite park and simply drag or throw these sticks/limbs into the nearest wooded area. Spring also brings about an invasive plant species called garlic mustard. By pulling this plant before it goes to seed, we can stop its harmful spread. If you would like to pull garlic mustard, go to Polk County Conservation’s website homepage for more information, maps, a video, and even a tasty pesto recipe that uses this invasive plant.
In all of our parks and trails, we recommend that you follow local and state ordinances and guidelines regarding the use of these spaces. Please do your part to use them in a way that respects each other and public health guidance. For park and trail information and maps, click here.
Garlic Mustard Pull